Location:

The Minerality of Wine

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Does chardonnay really taste like a river rock? The term minerality has been tossed around quite a bit in the sommelier’s vocabulary. In fact, it pervades all aspects of wine; found in wine descriptions and on the lips of winemakers and critics alike. But what does it actually mean? If you are new to the concept, it can seem a bit disorienting. How does one identify certain mineralities in wine?

Minerality in General
The word “minerality” has no real definition. It is not in the dictionary, yet is used quite often in the wine industry to describe characteristics of wines that aren’t fruity, spicy, earthy, etc. One idea is that the term originates from the theory that the rocks and minerals where the vines are grown somehow creep into the grapes before they are plucked; providing characteristic flavors depending on region.

There is no formal research proving that any actual minerals from river rocks, slate, or chalk make their way into the grapes during growth. This does not stop winemakers and restauranteurs alike from describing the wines which come from certain areas as having a high minerality. The idea has gained ground, and many people do believe that qualities from the soil get into the grapes. One thing is certain: Minerality is a thing. We just don’t know exactly what type of thing it is yet.

Defining Minerality
Often, the term is simply used to describe a very certain, yet unknown flavor appeal. Some have described minerality as a “dry, stony acidity” or a “flat, dry rain” quality. As the word gains popularity, we begin to find a definition. One premier wine director said that when his customers are asking for minerality, he has learned that they mean “wines with a lot of acidity but without a lot of fruit or new oak” qualities to them. This is as close to a definition as it can get.

Types of Mineralities
There seems to be a few distinct classes of mineralities in wine. This is based on location or type of wine, and there are slight variations.
• Chalk Minerality – These wines tend to be very dry and reminiscent of schoolhouse chalk. Dry Champagnes or Bruts are said to have chalky mineralities. Some chardonnays from California are describes this way, as well as Italian wines such as Chianti and Barolo.
• Slate Minerality – Slate minerality is less dry than chalk, but adds a certain earthy quality to the minerality. Slate minerality is often associated with rielsing.
• River Stone Minerality – The wet, gritty taste of a granite river stone is said to be found in the profile of chardonnays, sauvignon blanc, and pinot noir.
• Limestone Minerality – A buzzy acidity is used to describe limestone minerality; and it is most often associated with Chablis.

Minerality Usage
Popularity of the term seems to have risen in the last decade or so, and it is used to describe many different wines with different formulas – so there is no one type of wine which has pure mineral qualities. There is also no way of knowing where in the process this minerality is generated. It could be during harvest, the fermentation process, or bottling. Even the choice of a cork or a screw cap could add to the idea of minerality in wine by restricting the flow of oxygen to the bottle.

Dia de los Muertos: Food, Culture and Tradition story image

October 22 Uncategorized

Dia de los Muertos: Food, Culture and Tradition

Homes around the U.S. are being decorated with pumpkins, ghouls and witches in anticipation of Halloween, but in Mexico, the date coincides with the start of a more ancient tradition that has nothing to do with fright and much to do with culture, food and drinks.

Bolivian Wine: from the Andes to your Table story image

September 29 Bolivian Wine

Bolivian Wine: from the Andes to your Table

Bolivia may not instantly come to mind when one thinks of wine, but the South American country has a long and rich viticulture history that dates back to the arrival of the Spanish missionaries, who first planted vines around the wealthy silver-mining city of Potosi in the mid-16th century.

The ‘Arabica’ Whisperer story image

September 25 Coffee Producers

The ‘Arabica’ Whisperer

The best part of waking up? Well, it’s coffee, of course.

Humanity truly runs on this beverage that helps millions of people around the world wake up, work and function. And if it’s of the Arabica variety, its delicious ‘kick’ will keep you going strong all day long.

Raise a toast to Latino Heritage Month story image

September 15 Latino Heritage Month

Raise a toast to Latino Heritage Month

The Empire State Building kicked off Latino Heritage Month by shining red, white and green colors onto the New York skylight on September 15 in honor of the Mexican flag.

PEOPLE ARE STRANGE: Jim Morrison story image

August 16 Music

PEOPLE ARE STRANGE: Jim Morrison

Jim was quoted in his poetic nature: “Being drunk is a good disguise.” He said. “It means I can talk to assholes.”

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 2) story image

May 31 Civil rights

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 2)

It’s safe to say we would all agree Hennessy and Hip-Hop are associated with each other in a special way. We would even go as far to say, Hennessy has reached global iconic status thanks to that fact. That being said, while the cognac of hip-hop was catapulted to its iconic stature thanks to the help of artist like Tupac and Nas, what we don’t know by looking at the surface is that Hennessy has a long standing tradition of supporting people of African decent.

The First “Shot” Ever Served: A Tale of the West story image

July 15 shots

The First “Shot” Ever Served: A Tale of the West

It’s always a race against the heat in the West. Hell, there’s a score of difference races around here. There’s a race to the riches and a race to the hills where the riches lay. There’s a race to food and shelter and the means in which a man might make to get them. There’s a race to the women and to the brothels and saloons where you can find them at. I don’t look for my women in those places but I often find myself in them for other races. Mine is a race to whiskey. It’s only a matter of time before I find myself in one today.

Bertil Tøttenborg story image

October 20 Bolivia

Bertil Tøttenborg

Bertil Tøttenborg, Sommelier at renowned GUSTU Restaurant - The magnificence of Bolivian wines

x